(ANIMALS IN CAPTIVITY/WHALE SANCTUARY) After SeaWorld recently announced they would put an end to its orca breeding program, activists are urging the park to take their decision a step further and retire the existing killer whales to an ocean sanctuary. Thanks to a team of scientists who are building the first permanent sanctuary for dolphins and killer whales, this dream could actually become reality for SeaWorld’s captive whales.
While releasing captive orcas and dolphins into the wild may seem like the best choice, many fear it could mean certain death for the cetaceans as they are too damaged to live fully without care. However, retiring the animals to large ocean pens offers a more interesting life in an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible, with full support for their well-being.
Read on to learn more about the plans for the orca sanctuary and the logistics behind transferring SeaWorld’s captive dolphins and orcas so they can safely retire once and for all. — Global Animal
A team of scientists have started building an orca sanctuary, where SeaWorld’s killer whales could retire.
This will be the first permanent sanctuary for dolphins and killer whales.
After it was announced that the park was ending its orca breeding program, people asked whether the existing killer whales could be rehomed in a sea sanctuary.
SeaWorld shut down this decision, saying the whales were too weak from captivity to be successfully rehomed.
“Critics want us to go further; they believe we should simply ‘set free’ the whales and release them into the ocean,” SeaWorld said in a statement titled “Why Sea Cages Are Dangerous.” “We believe that would likely be a death sentence for our whales.”
These excuses have been refuted by experts, including marine biologist and orca expert Dr Naomi Rose. She told The Dodo: “The idea that sea pens in and of themselves are dangerous is utterly ludicrous”.
“It’s not something to be done lightly. I agree with them on all those points,” Rose said of the move to ocean pens. “The fact that it would be a death sentence? That’s ludicrous. They have no data to support that.”
She said moving them to the ocean, where they can stay safe in large pens – as they are too damaged to live completely without care – will give them a more interesting life, as one of the most damaging things about their habitat at SeaWorld is their lack of space.
Ignoring SeaWorld’s excuses, a group of SeaWorld trainers, Naomi Rose, and Lori Marino, a biologist and executive director of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, have gone rogue.
The team announced on Thursday they were creating the Whale Sanctuary Project, which plans to establish a permanent cetacean sanctuary in North America.
Lori Marino, who was featured in the popular and shocking documentary Blackfish, said in a statement:
“There are sanctuaries for other large, highly social, and wide-ranging mammals, including elephants and great apes, but there are none anywhere in the world yet for dolphins and whales…
“Cetacean sanctuary initiatives are long overdue, and we now have the best possible team of experts to ensure an optimal quality of life and care for individual cetaceans.”
The group said in a statement they were trying to build a place “where cetaceans — whales, dolphins, and porpoises — can live permanently in an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible and with full support for their well-being.”
Former SeaWorld trainers John Hargrove, Samantha Berg, John Jett, Carol Ray and Jeffrey Ventre will all serve on the advisory board.
It will also include the team who reintroduced captive orca Keiko into the wild in the 1990s, as well as David Phillips, director of the International Marine Mammal Project.
The group has also secured funding from Munchkin, Inc., CEO Steve Dunn, who has in the past pledged to give SeaWorld $1,000,000 if they rehomed Tilikum, the killer whale who famously drowned a trainer.
This group of top animal experts and conservationists have come together in the hope SeaWorld will change their mind, and allow them to safely retire their orcas in a sanctuary designed for animal welfare, not entertainment.
On their Facebook page, they wrote: “SeaWorld has said sea sanctuaries don’t work. We are going to prove them wrong.”